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Poster: light into ashes Date: Feb 2, 2012 2:27am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Rosemary

What's this? Rosemary is....gasp....a drug song? Like a half-dozen other songs on that album? No way! :)

It's funny how many ways a song can be heard - Hunter's songs are not always too clear. The Annotated GD Lyrics site has essays explaining very seriously how Aoxomoxoa is really a series of songs about the life cycle and the loss of childhood...

I always took Sugaree to be a man, actually, sung to by a woman...but in the situation of the song, it doesn't seem to matter.

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Poster: Lou Davenport Date: Feb 2, 2012 3:37pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Rosemary

A song that Jerry sings can be understood as narrated by a woman? If so, I'm saying It Must Have Been the Roses is narrated by Annie's female lover.

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Poster: AltheaRose Date: Feb 2, 2012 2:59am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Rosemary

Yeah, well, put that way it sounds really juvenile and dated and all ... there ought to be another phrase. "Expanded consciousness" song or something. "Owsleyesque?" "White Rabbitudinal?" How about "psychonautically charged"? That at least sounds semi-serious.

I may be wrong, but I'm betting that aspect is underanalyzed (or even avoided like some plaguey elephant in the room). After all, making note of the literary or folk-musical references is a way of underscoring the music's complexity and sophistication, but there's no easy way to talk about Those Other Aspects without risking sounding a bit like Beavis and Butthead. And also, of course, giving an opening to Dead bashers.

And yeah, the openness to interpretation (and refusal to be pinned down to a single interpretation) is so key to Hunter's genius.

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Poster: William Tell Date: Feb 2, 2012 10:41am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Rosemary: LiA & Rose

WARNING: no rant, no criticism, no attack intended by what follows...just good old literary critique. Medication related as well...

;)

We've been down this path before, together in fact (the three of us, + many others), and you two know my "simple is best" rule regarding Hunter, so just thought I'd chime in to share my (old hat) take...

As I've said many times, I think Hunter is an excellent writer, but a very simple (elegant, not a knock on his style!) one. I think that when he wants to convey ideas, content--meaning, he does so in a beautiful and straight forward fashion.

IE, the songs like UJB, Ripple, BDPal, are all VERY straight forward and this is his "style # 1".

When he writes other songs, he is using his words much more simplistically than these many interpretations require: he is literally "writing without intention" and the words, as constructed, are the substance of the thing...nothing more, nothing less. FWIW, he writes beautifully in this format. Style # 2.

There are many writers that do this, but with respect to classic examples like CCS, by Hunter, it is merely the wonderful way in which the words are strung together that was intentional, at the time, rather than all of the gibberish that people infer from them at a later date. Hunter, like all good writers, encourages this--and that IS the beauty of art (that it allows for this). But, I don't put much stock in the "meaning" provided by subsequent interpreters, if you follow.

Thus, my point is not to invalidate ANY interpretation of ANY Hunter song, of either of these styles, BUT to simply (once more) emphasis that his two styles, to me, are very transparent: one conveys instant meaning/inference/innuendo because, duh, he wants it to; the other is vague and ambiguous because there is really nothing there (or everything if you want to view it that way) in that we could more easily explain WHY he wrote the words the way he did in those songs by "it sounded good". Period.

Sorry, didn't mean this to sound/read so pedantic, but I think it is over-looked how widespread this "non-sensical" writing style was for Hunter's generation (and again, that does NOT mean any less artistic or beautiful or accomplished).

My bottom line is that when Hunter wanted to convey "meaning", he did so very straightforwardly, and in the other instances, he is just juxtaposing words, phrases, etc, because in so doing, they are appealing. Finally, he has in some interviews more or less said this is what he does when writing; but, of course, it's more fun to allow the projections, interpretations, etc. developed by the listerners...

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Feb 2, 2012 12:46pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Rosemary: LiA & Rose

Interesting post.
Though an english-major myself, I actually try to stay away from any interpretation of the lyrics. (Here with Rosemary, I just listed some possible literary antecedents that Hunter may, or may not, have had in mind.)
I agree that some of his lyrics are just nonsense (in the Lewis Carroll sense); but many of the lines that seem simple turn out to be not so simple. Often Hunter did have a meaning in mind that kind of got boiled away in the writing; sometimes he prefers to express himself obscurely, to be more poetic.

This is an essay Hunter wrote about finding meaning in his lyrics, where he 'deconstructs' Franklin's Tower -
http://artsites.ucsc.edu/GDead/agdl/fauthrep.html
(He wrote it in response to a rather academic essay - http://artsites.ucsc.edu/GDead/agdl/jurgen.html - that suggested the Dead's lyrics mostly had no meaning at all.)

These are a few other related essays to consider -
http://artsites.ucsc.edu/GDead/agdl/nonsense.html (nonsense in Hunter's lyrics)
http://artsites.ucsc.edu/GDead/agdl/ambig.html (ambiguity in Hunter's lyrics)
http://artsites.ucsc.edu/GDead/agdl/goose.html (nursery rhymes in Dead songs)
http://artsites.ucsc.edu/GDead/agdl/aoxomoxo.html (a few notes on the Aoxomoxoa song cycle)
http://artsites.ucsc.edu/GDead/agdl/motif.html (an incomplete index of motifs in the Dead's lyrics; fun to browse)

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Poster: AltheaRose Date: Feb 2, 2012 6:55pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Rosemary: LiA & Rose

Well, yeah, to settle on anything as the "truest" interpretation is definitely limiting -- Hunter showed that brilliantly in his Franklin's essay! (Which was exactly his point, of course.)

And of course I'm not disagreeing with pointing out possible literary antecedents. Those can be (and are) obviously present even in the purest "trip" songs. (Which anyway wouldn't be terribly good "trip" songs if they didn't have a multiplicity of meanings beyond "whoa, look at those colors.")

The Annotated GD site is always interesting; a lot of what people have found seems far-fetched, IMO, if they're taken as "exact one-to-one influence," but Hunter clearly always read voluminously and there are all kinds of ways for what a writer has read to seep into their work, from conscious parallels and references to vague resonance that appears because, as Hunter has said, they just sound "appealing." (Which is another way of being vague on his part, but vague can be truest.) There have been many times when I've read a reference there and vowed to go back to the poem referenced and read the original ... and of course don't follow through! (Ditto with your essays and references, LiA; I'm always planning to go back and spend some good time reading all the links, etc. You should see my "favorites" list, LOL. I'm so impressed you find the time and focus to do all the work you do. It's always amazing, and I learn so much.)

Btw, I love it that the (long-ago) English major contributes a thoroughly researched and extensive essay full of literary references; the Art History major points out something that's been overlooked; and the Biology major goes, "Oh c'mon, the great thing about Hunter is he's STRAIGHTFORWARD, but a bunch of it is just nonsense!" Gee Uncle John, what was your major? :-)

This post was modified by AltheaRose on 2012-02-03 02:55:53

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Poster: William Tell Date: Feb 3, 2012 6:23am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Rosemary: LiA & Rose

Bingo! [bio major biz; though, zoology degrees actually abound on the wall, or in the drawer, or wherever the wife puts such things...]

;)

And, I am so glad you two took it in the right spirit; FWIW, it wasn't really directed at EITHER you or LiA, as neither of you really do the kind of thing I was labeling "gibberish".

It's the other folks I've met over the yrs, or some here, that go on and on, and on, with interpretations (like with CCS), that really seem entirely beside the "point" (IMHO).

Thx for that...

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Feb 2, 2012 7:24pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Rosemary: LiA & Rose

I think a lot of the suggestions on the Annotated GD site are nonsense, actually! But, it's all in good fun...
What's apparent is that Hunter was always immersed in poetry, particularly English, and that stuff influenced & seeped into his writing quite a bit; especially since he was often trying to write a traditional poem as much as a song.

Glad you find my essays useful. (It's pretty obvious I wasn't a music major!)
I'm always keenly aware, though, of how little time & focus I have for writing them, and there's SO much more that should've been written by now - my head's full of the posts to come, which will take months to get to. Other bloggers are much more diligent & productive...

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Poster: unclejohn52 Date: Feb 2, 2012 11:17am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Rosemary: LiA & Rose

possibly your most cogent post, ever. ;)

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Feb 2, 2012 12:26pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Rosemary

Perhaps you're right that this aspect is underanalyzed or avoided.
Another way to see it is that the 'psychedelic' aspect of early Dead lyrics is limiting because it's so omnipresent - practically everything the Dead wrote in '67/68 can be taken as a 'trip' song. And were no doubt written as such.
Of course, this was a band dedicated to getting their audiences high in every way... But while Hunter probably intended many of his lyrics to be taken that way, to settle on that as the truest interpretation strikes me as a narrow approach, reading a song like cops looking for drug clues! I take the songs as being more like prisms, that cast different colors when you turn them different ways...

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Poster: vapors Date: Feb 2, 2012 2:32pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Rosemary

"I take the songs as being more like prisms, that cast different colors when you turn them different ways..."

Beautifully stated. and thanks once again for sharing your research and insights with us.

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